A thoughtful, comprehensive portrait of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s remarkable life.
Lord Jenkins (Gladstone, 1997, etc.) adds to his reputation as England’s foremost political biographer with this portrayal of Churchill’s mercurial character and career. He carefully avoids the hero worship or demonization affected by many historians in favor of a balanced assessment of Churchill’s work in literature and politics. The perennial statesman’s authorial aspirations, Jenkins asserts, in addition to eventually winning him the Nobel Prize for Literature, also laid the rhetorical foundation for many of the last century’s most memorable speeches. At the same time, his genius for oratory assured Churchill political positions in which he would have a profound impact on Great Britain’s foreign and domestic policies. These twin ambitions, Jenkins argues, prepared Churchill for and eventually catapulted him into his most famous role as Britain’s wartime prime minister after Neville Chamberlain’s notorious appeasement of Adolf Hitler. In the aftermath of WWII, Churchill fell from power along with Britain’s need for such a larger-than-life leader. The author devotes substantial space to Churchill’s selfish attempts to hold onto the international prestige he had earned as England’s wartime leader. His evenhanded analysis demonstrates the damage Churchill’s political ambition wreaked on both his party and his own reputation. Even in light of Jenkins’s inclusion of the politician’s almost childlike idiosyncrasies, Churchill’s infectious exuberance and tenacious spirit shine through, insuring that his legacy remains that of Britain’s most impressive modern leader.
While too many authors have chronicled Churchill’s rich life for this to be considered truly definitive, Jenkins’s inside perspective on British politics makes his work essential reading for those interested in Churchill’s life and times. (32 pages b&w photos, maps)